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DIVISION III CHAMPIONSHIP

In the End, Notre Dame Falls

December 13, 1997|TRIS WYKES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Despair . . . elation . . . despair again, all within little more than a minute for Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High in the Southern Section Division III championship game against Arroyo Grande.

Blake Bigelow's fourth field goal of the game, from 28 yards with 19 seconds to play, gave the Eagles a 19-17 victory Friday night before 7,000 at Pierce College.

Notre Dame took a 17-16 lead with 54 seconds to play on a six-yard touchdown pass from Dave DeMartinis to Tony Arredondo and Juan Plascencia's extra point.

Arroyo Grande got a 30-yard kickoff return from Jeremy Dennison, a 26-yard pass completion and 12 yards on two running plays to set up the winning kick and hand Notre Dame the division's runner-up plaque for the second consecutive season.

"This is a horrible way to lose," Notre Dame Coach Kevin Rooney said. "We had a chance to win."

The Arroyo Grande defense limited Notre Dame running back Justin Fargas to 78 yards in 19 carries.

Trailing, 16-10, Notre Dame (11-3) drove to the Eagle 16, where it faced fourth down and four with 2:15 to play. DeMartinis lofted a pass over the middle to Joe Aragno, who appeared to catch the ball at the eight as he was tackled.

The officials initially gave no signal and the teams began to prepare for another Notre Dame play. But an incomplete pass was suddenly signaled, and it appeared Arroyo Grande (10-3) would run out the clock.

"It looked to me like he caught the ball, but the officials said he was bobbling it and it came out as he hit the ground," Rooney said.

Four plays later, however, Eagle Cory Lawrence was hit by safety Fargas, and the fumble was recovered and returned 34 yards to the Arroyo Grande six by Matt Boyd.

On the next play, DeMartinis threw a high pass to Arredondo, who beat Nick Cornwell and slipped barely past the pylon at the front of the end zone.

"Things were looking good at that point, but I knew there was still time left," Arredondo said.

As it turns out, enough time.

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